"A hard fought victory, there's no doubt about it. I know it sounds cliché, but it's not. Everybody's playing for the same thing -- they're playing to get better, they're playing to win, they're playing to improve. All year long, but certainly in preparing for the game, there's no question in my mind, if you're going to have the best league in the country like we have, and it's been that way the entire year, then certain teams should get a little bit of exclusion from the bubble, and I think Iowa's one of them. I don't have any doubt about that. Nobody wants to see them in the NCAA Tournament; I mean they're really good.
"For us to defend them the way we did tonight and hold them to 14 points in the first half says a lot about our defense, a lot about our resolve -- it's been a long week. Anytime you have a Tuesday-type Saturday situation and then losing the way we did and coming back and having to grind and having to play against another really good team, it's never easy. Getting to this point is not easy, and getting to this year is not easy. These guys continue to improve, they have great resolve, and again it's not going to be a beautiful, picture-perfect game, it's too good of a league.
"The other teams are too good, but to defend the way we did, to get 52 deflections is tremendous. To be one of only six teams that has ever gotten to 25 regular season wins in Indiana history is big, really big. I thought the way we did it was a tremendous testament to the way these guys worked. To open up March with a win like that against a very good team is excellent.
"Cody [Zeller] had a phenomenal night, a great week leading up to tonight. He continues to get better and better, continues to get a lot of attention on the court, and earns everything that he gets. He earned every one of those free throws. He continues to play at a very high level. We had to work through fouls, we had to work through lack of confidence maybe once in a while from our offense not being where it needed to be in the first half. A sign of a mature team is that it never, ever wavered on the defensive end, and that's the story of the game for us."
On what the key to improvement has been for the defense this year:
"They understand that you can't win without it. They understand that you truly can't win the way ... I mean we went through the offseason of being able to show where we got three more stops in certain games, we left it up in our practice gym the entire time, what it would have meant seeding-wise for us. We would have either been a first of the second seeds or, who knows, maybe slid in even higher, but we didn't. A year ago we were 8-7 going into the 16th game of the year. We didn't have it that way. These guys really understand.
"The biggest thing is that we can't win without it, but it leads to more opportunities offensively. When you're creating turnovers, when you're getting defensive rebounds, when you're getting those stops put together, you're getting easier baskets and at the same time you're cutting into the fatigue of the other team and into their confidence level. We've been there. That's why I love the maturity of this group right now. Even when the shots aren't falling, they're still playing at a very high level. They understand what wins, and defensive rebounds win.
"We had the poorest offensive rebounding attempts of the entire season the other night, combined with the poorest block out situations of the entire season the other night. We had some guys that didn't play close to where they were capable of playing. We had 40 deflections and yet we still had a chance to win that game inside the last minute. Your offense isn't always going to be there, but when you defend at a high level, when you rebound at a high level, that's going to put you over the top and that's what did it today. We shot the ball at times when we needed to shoot, we didn't get discouraged, and we didn't get down. We continued to offensive rebound the ball, I'll be anxious to see the numbers on that, and we were playing a really good team that wasn't going to go away."
On the team's focus on defense even during tough offensive stretches:
"I think it's going to serve us well, to be honest with you. We were really working to concentrate. There could have been a lot of different times where we slipped up, and we made some mistakes in the last five minutes, we've just got to continue to understand time and score situations, but that's part of it. It just says a lot about this group of guys that they really do understand what wins games. I know that sounds basic, but it's not. They have to get to the foul line, that's who we are and they've made it that way. We've got to get the stops; we've got to get the ball reversed. We've got to get the ball inside. We weren't nervous at all about attacking the zone. We've had some games where we were scoring two and a half points per possessions against zones. Our points per possession against zones are higher than our points overall. We see zone and it's not an issue. Now the shots have to go, and I know they weren't that high tonight, but these guys don't get concerned about any of that, presses, it doesn't make any difference, they'll attack it."
On how tough it was with the starting and stopping with all of the fouls:
"It was kind of hard with the stopping and going again with the fouls, but we have to continue staying locked in, and like Cody and Yogi said, we have to continue playing (defense). If they're not scoring then we're doing our job. Holding a team like Iowa to 14 points (in the first half,) that's great defense. We've just got to continue playing defense and help each other out."
Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell
On getting to the basket and improving on finishing as the season has gone on:
"I was just pretty much trying to pick my spots in the last game. I definitely missed a lot of layups I could have finished. Tonight I felt I did a better job of taking one more dribble and being more under control."
On not hitting a 3-point shot until the last minute and if they were aware of that:
"I think we were. We noticed we weren't really making any shots. We know we're a good shooting team. We kept shooting them. We were hoping one would go down but if one didn't, that we needed but I felt like especially getting six three-in-a-row stops in the first half stopped us really. It was pretty much a low scoring game at the beginning. I'd say the defensive tone set us up for the second half."
On if they learned anything about Iowa from the first time they played them:
"We noticed they're a very good transition. I feel like people underestimate them and their transition offense. They definitely get the ball out and push. We just wanted to do a better job, especially when we scored, to get back on defense because I remember in the second half when we played at their place they had a lot of inside looks on us and we weren't getting back. I think it's a crucial thing is just stops really and just getting down and playing (defense) and we definitely did that better in the first half than the second half. That's for sure."
On if there is anything he has worked on to improve his finishing:
"Coach just always talks about, especially driving, just one more dribble. You don't want to take off too far and kind of get out control. Just when driving take more one dribble to be more in control and just lay it up."
On being able to move on after losses:
"With a loss, we always have it in the back of our mind, especially watching film with the things we work on. As Coach (Crean) always says, even within the game, just move onto the next play. You can't do something about the past. You can do something about the future. Coach just says move onto the next game pretty much."
On the physicality of this game:
"The thing that kept us going was our defense. We kept getting stops on the defensive end. We struggled at times on our offense but when you're getting stops you're going to win."
On what they have to do in order to win when the shots aren't falling:
"It comes eventually. Like I said, when we're defending they aren't scoring and we're still in good shape so that's when we really start getting behind when we aren't scoring and getting stops. It doesn't hurt you as much if you're defending so we figure they'll start falling eventually."
"I mean me, Christian, and (Victor Oladipo) really all of our guards, even Yogi and Remy, can get in there and get rebounds. Any time you can get an extra possession, whether it's offensive rebounding or anything like that, you want to take full advantage of it. I thought we did a nice job of that tonight."
On winning this game pretty much strictly in the paint:
"Really that's our strategy going into the game. We want to get it in the paint, whether it's throwing it in the post or driving. That's where we are most successful, and like you said, we had to do more of that tonight to win."
On what makes Iowa a tough team:
"They are a tough team. They come out and play hard whether they are up 10 or down 10. They are going to fight you until the end. They have a lot of toughness and they run their stuff well. It's a good Big Ten team."
On missing his first four shots and if he felt it was only a matter of time before they started falling:
"I just wanted to be aggressive. I wanted to make those, obviously. I should have made them. We were getting offensive rebounds off of them. It's still good even if I don't score and someone else is going to score. That's our best offense is getting it inside to either me or Christian."
On the behind-the-back pass from Will Sheehey:
"We used to always do that drill in high school where you would tip from behind. I haven't used it much but it's a tribute to Coach Miiller, my high school coach. Will, you know Will, getting fancy with it. It was just a fun play I guess."
On being able to get to the free throw line 42 times:
"That's just us being aggressive. We always like getting to the free throw line. It's a good skill and how aggressive we are being, whether it's driving or getting it into the post. We got in the bonus early so we were getting all of the one-and-ones and double bonus so that's always a key for us."
On how confident they are in winning no matter what the style of play is:
"Like I was saying before, our defensive really gets us going. Our defense can be consistent whether are shots are falling or not. It obviously looks a lot better if we are scoring but like you said we can win if it's a good scoring game just because our defense is playing well."
Iowa Head Coach Fran McCaffery
March 2, 2013
On Iowa's struggles in the first half:
"There were too many turnovers in the first half. The second half was pretty good. We were giving offensive rebounds up to guys we should not have given them up to. To me, the disappointing thing was that we had a chance to get it to five before the half and we missed consecutive free throws. If we were down under ten at the half, it would have been a different game. We were not in sync offensively, but at the same time I'm really proud of our fight. When we made our run, they made runs as well, which is what you would expect a really good team to do. They have enough weapons, enough experience and enough poise that they are going to be hard to catch."
On not being able to get stops defensively:
"It was one of those games that was pretty physical, so they were calling a lot of fouls. I thought they did what they had to do and called a good game on both ends of the court."
On Devyn Marble:
"It was good that we got him going early. That was important because it helped settle him down. In the second half we just started setting him up more. He got a good mixture of loose balls and transition scoring and then we set him up. His game tonight was a combination of all of that."
On the plays designed to open the second half:
"That was just really good execution. We had run that same set in the first half five or six times, we just were not as effective or efficient as we were the second half. We talked about it at halftime and they executed much better."
On Iowa's continued struggles in the first half this season:
"I wouldn't really call it a freeze-up, I'd call it a really good defensive effort by a terrific defensive team tonight."
On Eric May:
"He was phenomenal. He guarded small guys, he guarded big guys, he played a guard spot, he played forward, he got rebounds and ran the break, he was executing in the half court and he was scoring. He was fabulous."
On his message to the team this point in the season:
"My message now is no different than any other game. I'm going to hold my guys accountable for what we should have or could have done better or differently and I'm going to pat them on the back for what they did well. Just because we lost doesn't mean we did everything horribly. We struggled in the first half and they showed a lot of character in the locker room. I'm still very proud of them in many aspects of this game. We have to individually improve enough so that the whole gets that much better. If you told me we were going to play on the road and turn it over 14 times, get out-rebounded, and only score 14 points the first half, I'd think would get blown-out, but we were right there in this. There's a lot of positives I take from this game."